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25 Secret European Villages

Iceland: Hellnar

While the remnants of the fishing sheds built by Hellnar’s 11th-century settlers may suggest that this town hasn’t changed since the Vikings arrived, it is, in some ways, the most contemporary village in Iceland. The handful of residents—all of them small-boat fishermen—share a serious commitment to preserving the environment. Houses and farms in Hellnar, located at the far end of a peninsula facing the 4,600-foot Snaefellsjökull glacier, are heated by eco-friendly hydroelectric power, and Hotel Hellnar was the first hospitality venture in the country to be certified by Green Globe, the international sustainability certification system.

Population: 8

How to Get There: Fly into Keflavík International Airport and drive 3 1/2 hours to Hellnar.

Where to Stay and Eat: Great Value Hotel Hellnar (doubles from $210) or Hotel Budir (doubles from $211; dinner for two $108), a luxury property on a farmstead that serves salt-fish brandade and cod confit.

Local Take: In summer, you’ll find Gudrun Bergmann, owner of Hotel Hellnar, on the top of the glacier with Snjofell Tours (snjofell.is; from $75 per person).


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